It's Cleveland Beer Week, which means that the bulk of beverages consumed around town this week likely will not be high on the healthy lifestyle list. Fortunately, it's getting easier by the day to undo the daily damage we inflict upon our bodies simply by swapping out our beverage of choice.
When Beet Jar opens up in Ohio City in the coming weeks, it will join an ever-growing cadre of health-focused juice providers who offer a simple, effective and delicious way to improve our health. At least, that's what the practitioners say.
"If you want to feel as good as possible and have as much energy as possible, I'd recommend turning to juice," says Beet Jar owner Joseph Joseph.
The all-vegan, all-organic juice bar will specialize in fresh made juices, raw foods and desserts. Both Joseph and his girlfriend and business partner Molly Pamela are practicing vegans who feel that now is the right time to bring the juicing trend to Cleveland.
"It's not a terribly new concept overall, but I think it's a new concept to Cleveland to have a healthy, clean juice establishment," he says. "To us, it's not a trend and it's not going away. It's a lifestyle that we practice, and we're glad that awareness is growing."
Juicing can be as basic as ordering a refreshing glass of beet, apple and orange juice on the way to work, or as single-minded as a 10-day cleanse consisting of little more than lemon-spiked water. Where one falls on that fruit-flavored spectrum depends entirely on what the goal is.
"People juice for all different reasons," says Anna Harouvis, whose Anna in the Raw juices land in the bodies of professional athletes, cancer patients and harried commuters. "Some people are looking for a quick fix – you can lose up to eight pounds doing the juice cleanse. Others are looking to give their body a rest and allow it to repair itself."
Sign up for Harouvis' three-day cleanse and you'll enjoy six 16-ounce glasses of raw, cold-pressed juice per day. "It's 60 pounds of organic produce in three days – of course you're going to feel great! How else would you get all those vitamins?" says Harouvis.
Her line of cold-pressed juices runs the gamut from one made with pineapple, apple and mint, to another crammed with apple, celery, cucumber, spinach, kale, parsley and lemon. The cayenne pepper in one juice is said help stimulate the circulatory system, while the raw cashews in another act as powerful antioxidants.
"We're not doctors by any means, but we're students of this," explains Joseph regarding the claimed health benefits of juicing. "We read and do research all the time, and we hope to stay on the cutting edge of awareness."
As with all food, the fresher, the better. That's why we're starting to see demand (and, thus, supply) for local versions of items previously available only on the shelves of health food stores and gourmet groceries. Take a look at those pricey juices at Whole Foods, for instance, and see how far out the freshness date is. Worse, give the back label a thorough read.
"When you start looking through the ingredient list of some of these commercially made products, you start looking for an all natural alternative," notes Hunter Harlor, who recently launched forty.one, a vegan soy and almond milk company. "While our stuff doesn't last three weeks in your refrigerator, it does taste better and it's healthier."
Harlor's milks, which contain zero emulsifiers and preservatives, are popping up at local coffee shops like Rising Star and Phoenix, where they satisfy vegans in the market for a creamy cappuccino. Harlor will be selling his products throughout the winter at the Downtown farmers market, held Fridays at 5th Street Arcades.
"There is such a demand for local, high quality products," he adds. "We're struggling to keep up with the demand."
To Edward Padilla, the owner of Helvetica in Lakewood, juicing is not so much a growing trend as it is a tradition. Raised in Puerto Rico, Padilla grew up drinking freshly made guanabana, naranjilla and tamarindo juices – literally plucked off the backyard tree and blended in a fruity beverage.
He recreates those healthy fruit juices at the café using fresh, raw fruit and water – nothing else. "It's like you're biting into the actual fruit," he says. "It might be a little tart, it might be a little sour."
While the Latin juices are far from commonplace, they too boast supposed health benefits that are too good to ignore. "We like to tell our customers the stories that our grandparents told us and their great grandparents told them," says Padilla. "For example, that passion fruit lowers blood pressure or that guava reduces cancer."
We'll drink to that.